Friday, July 30, 2010

Fairy Door Tutorial

Being summer time we wanted some extra enchantment for the girls.  And we decided to share it with the community.    So I made a wooden outdoor Fairy Door.  And I’m going to share my learning curve with you.

I decided to enter a craft challenge using knobs and hinges by Fireflies & Jellybeans.

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My inspiration was an old stump at a local park.  Nearly every time we go the girls clean out the little nook and line it with twigs, feathers, berries, etc.  Offerings for their fairy friends. 

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So we made a rough outline of the stump’s nook’s opening and traced it onto a piece of pine board.

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I wanted a door that would open, so inside of the original outline I drew a door with a rounded top.

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Then I did something really brave.  I pulled out a scroll saw and without any male assistance what-so-ever I used it to cut out my little fairy door.  I know a jigsaw would work just as well.

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Here’s my learning curve.  Use a thicker blade.  The blade on the scroll saw was very thin and didn’t allow enough room for the inner door to open.  So I had to go around the inside door and shave a little bit more off the shape.

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Then I sanded down all sides of the door.

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Then, Wowser, I picked up a tool I’ve never before used.  A Dremel.  I used it to carve little wooden slats in the front of my fairy door.  I would sometimes bounce off of the line I was supposed to be following.  Oh well,  it just gave the door more character.

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Then I pulled out a tool for which I feel a lot more comfortable.  My wood-burner tool – it’s my friend.  And I added some twirly vines, pixie dust and this charming quote from Albert Einstein,

‘Imagination is more important than Knowledge.’

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Knowing this door is intended for outside use.  I used a couple of different colors to stain it with.  A red stain for the door.

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Here’s a different use for some of your scrapbook markers.  What I like about using them is I could color in details, and they are acid free and don’t fade.  Afterwards I lightly wiped a light oak color stain over the outer frame of my fairy door.  Once the stain was dry, I also added a couple of coats of an outdoor sealer.

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Then I added the hinges and knobs.  I think I had to go to 5 different stores to find something suitable.  I decided to use a rose push pin as a wreath hanger for the door.

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Here’s another learning curve.  Pre-mark and drill the holes for your hinges, it will go a lot faster.   Here’s something else I learned.  You may not want to attach your door until after you have installed it in it’s new home.  Why?  Because the door may get in the way of you attaching it to whatever it is you are attaching it too.

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I think it turned out quite nice for my first outdoor Fairy Door.  See even my dremel slip-up look like they are supposed to be there, like the door has been aged a bit.

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Once completed we snuck back to our secret stump at one of our favorite playgrounds.

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Here’s another hint.  Pre-drill your frame where your supporting screws will be attaching it to the stump.    Make sure you are going from a front inside frame edge to a back outside edge (angled) slant.  Because chances are you don’t have a screwdriver tiny enough to fit in between the frame.  (See how a pre-attached door can get in the way) Also counter sink those angled screws so they don’t stop the door from closing.  Believe me, you will probably want to take a small chargeable drill.  I won’t tell you how long it took me to screw the door into the stump.  Stupid Striped screws.

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After working on it for a couple of hours I even ended up having my husband come and help.   Thanks Prince Erik for your help.  I can handle power tools great but a plain old screwdriver was giving me fits.

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Once it was screwed to the stump I used a bit of some heavy duty outdoor glue to  glue twigs and moss between the frame and stump to hide the screws.  Now it almost looks as if the little people put it there.

Hey, but now there’s a little magic at the community park.

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And it opens so little hands and hearts can grow their own imagination.  

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Of course, I hope it lasts.  I hope some troll doesn’t destroy our little gift.  It was quite fun to make and I’m sure we will make many more.  I think some little matching windows are now calling me.

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I created this first and foremost to keep my heart young and full of imagination.  But I also made the Outdoor Fairy Door as a Iron Crafter Challenge from Fireflies & Jellybeans.  The secret ingredient that we had to use was Knobs and Hinges.  While I didn’t re-write the book on how basic knobs and hinges are used.  I think presenting them in miniature form can open up a whole new world of imagination.

firefly crafter

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Too Hot to Cook – Refreshing Foods to help beat the heat.

We’ve all had those days, when it’s so hot the thought of cooking or heating food is nigh replusive.  Well here are some of my families favorite Too-Hot-to-Cook Foods. 

Yogurt Parfait – It’s as simple as layering your favorite yogurt, fresh berries (go hit up you local farmers market) and granola.

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Or use those fresh berries to make a yummy breakfast fruit smoothie.

5 star smoothie

Here’s a 5 Star Smoothie Recipe from Amy Jessica at   I suggest replacing the frozen berries with fresh ones.

How about:

Apple-Snicker Salad.  (One of my families favorite recipes)

2 Can’s Crushed Pineapple (Drained)

3 Medium or 4 small Granny Smith Apples chopped up.

4-5 Snicker’s Bars cut into small cubes (easier to cut and not make a gooey mess if you’ve refrigerated them first)

Regular size tub of Lite Cool Whip

(Opt).  1/8 – 1/4th cup chopped up salted peanuts or cashews.

I always drain my crushed pineapple through a strainer, while pushing down on it with a spoon.  Then save the pineapple juice and add it to your favorite breakfast fruit smoothie, or use it in the Black Bean salad below.

Bring on the Sandwiches:   Chicken Salad is one of my favorites.  You can use the canned chicken (drained) in your favorite recipe or like me cook some chicken up ahead of time (in the evening when the house is cooling off)  Love pre-cooking pasta for future salads on a cooler evening as well.

This next recipe is so good it should be banned.  Many thanks to my sis-in-law Em who shared it with me a couple of years ago.  I could eat it by the bucket full with a good bag of corn chips.

Black Bean and Citrus Salad

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup red wine  or rice vinegar

1/3  cup orange or Pineapple juice

2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained

1 (15 oz) can corn, drained

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 medium green bell pepper, diced

1 small onion

In large glass or ceramic bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar and orange or pineapple juice until well blended.  Add remaining ingredients, mix well and serve.  For even more flavor, cover and let stand at room temperature for several hours or in the refrigerator overnight.  If chilled, bring to room temperature before serving.

Hillbilly Housewife posted a similar yummy bean Salad on her site.  Submitted by  Neita  here’s a keeper called…

Cowboy Caviar (Click here to see it)

Also high on our list is

Lemonade or Limeade with fresh berries and mint leaves added the evening before.  Served over ice – Perfection

How about some

Snow in Summer.  We purchased a cheap shaved ice maker a few years back and the kids always beg me to pull it out.  How cheap is Ice for a cooling snack?  Found this adorable retro looking machine online.

sno cones

Personally I like the shaved ice without the flavoring added.  Could suck on the stuff all day.

Please chime on:  What are your favorite no-cook recipes.  Send me a link and I’ll add it onto this post.

Here’s some more…

Little Birdie Secrets Yummy Eclair Dessert.

yummy dessert


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weeds never looked so Lovely

In my blog travels I happened along a magical place called Childhood Magic.

childhood magic

Love this blog.  Sadly it is going away.   But before it left it prompted me to dig through my Secret Garden and create this for Hope.

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And for Princess… who knew weeds could look so lovely.

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The instructions are simple.  Put a slice through the stem of your flower (or weed) 1-2 inches down the stem and feed the stem of another flower through it.  Continue on until you have a flower chain.  I added an extra long slice to the last stem to gently guided the first flower through it. 

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Loved making these for my girls.

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I have a feeling we are going to be enjoying our flowers and weeds this year.

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Can you believe I’ve never made Daisy Chains before?  Maybe it’s because I grew up as a tom-boy and have only embraced the little girl crafts after having daughters of my own.  Can I just say that I’m enjoying my second childhood immensely.  Don’t you just love these free crafts?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Make a Fairy Tree House

I’ve loved Tree Houses since watching Swiss Family Robinson as a little girl (Fritz was sooo cute).  That and my girls and I have been wanting to make a Fairy Tree House for quite a while.  Ever since I saw what little 10 year old Lucy crafted on my friend Beth’s Blog.  Check out her enchanted, award winning Fairy House HERE.  Now that it’s summer, my children and I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to make one of our own.  Our fairy home is smaller than Lucy’s but fits in a quite nook in the girls bedroom perfectly.
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Our cost = Zero.  We used whatever we could find around the house.  Compare it to tree houses you can buy for over $60 on the internet.
Want to make something similar?  I realize being the craft hoarder that I am, I probably have more tools than some so to make something similar you may have to borrow some tools from friends.  But the results are so worth it.   I know my girls AND I will get lots of play time out of it.
Like I said before everything we used was found or I already had supplies on hand.  Here’s what we did.
Found a naturally downed tree in an old log jam by a local river.  Fell in love with the stump of the tree and brought it home.  I originally wanted driftwood but as I’ve no near plans to visit the beach soon, we settled for scouring the local river banks.
Then I proceeded to ask my husband to show me how to use his chain saw.  He declined to let me handle his macho power-tool but kindly leveled the bottom of the stump for me and in the process took off some splintered roots.  I’m sure you could achieve the same affect with a hand saw.  Chain saw just saved some time.
The first fairy house we made years ago was branches drilled into a piece of plywood.  What I love about the stump is that it’s free-standing and doesn’t need an extra base.
I wanted a little room at the bottom of the tree so I borrowed my husband drill, put on a large bit and drilled several close holes near the bottom.
Then I used some wood chisels and a hammer that we had in the garage to roughly hollow out a room.
Also used the chisels to frame a window further up the tree. 
Then I found a downed branch in the back yard that was nearly as wide as the large drill bit and made several angled holes in the trunk of the tree to add branches.  Once I figured out where to put them, I used a strong wood glue to affix them into place.
Luckily we have a sander and I thankfully used it to try and smooth the whole tree base and stump over.   Hand sanding would have taken a lot longer, but was definitely do-able.
This step is optional, but we decided to use a white-wash type stain (which I happened to have in some old paint supplies)  to blend the color of the branches with the tree base.    That and the tree was dark and I wanted the next step to show up.
The girls helped in nearly all aspects of the tree with the exception of this next step.  I love using my wood burning tool and wanted to put some fairy quotes and vines around the tree.  
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Couldn’t resist adding pixie dust too.
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Normally I would have painted in the designs, but I really wanted to make this project without buying a thing.  And as my paint supply is woefully short, I pulled out some of my old scrapbooking marker pens and went to town.
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The easy thing about using a wood burning tool is that you hold it almost like a pen and can do quite the detailed decorating.
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We personalized  our little fairy tree house by putting all our names in various locations around the tree.
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I know when you really want something and work towards it, well, sometimes, magically, things happen to help you along.
We found some greenery sitting by the side of the road, the very day we were trying to figure out our leaves.  Then  using some wire cutters we trimmed little branches off the greenery.  I put a very small drill bit (matching the width of the floral wire) on the drill and proceeded to go to town drilling holes all over the ends of the branches and top of the tree.
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Once we decided where we were going to put all the leaves we removed the wire branches, added glue and stuck them back in the drilled holes.
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Then came the fun part.
We made a sweet birds nest for one of the branches.  Tutorial HERE.
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I crocheted a mini hammock out of some crochet thread.
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Drilled a little slab of stripped bark and added twine for a fairy swing.
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See how sweet.  Can you tell how much fun we had making this?
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Lined the little hollowed out room with moss.
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I wanted an extra room further up the tree.  So I took some pieces of bark, cut them to the same length, drilled holes in the ends and using floral wire laced them together on both ends.
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I know this might be kind of flimsy but the bark floor is supported by some bamboo skewers that were glued into drilled holes in the tree. 
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And access to that floor was as simple as tying knots around little twigs (secured with craft glue) using my crochet thread.
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What was wonderful was the fact that my kids started using their imagination.  My Lea crafted a little fairy table and chair out of bark and twigs and glued them together with craft glue.
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We worked on our enchanted tree house a little each day for over a week and are still dreaming up more furniture, decorations, and accessories for our magical fairy home. 
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Our fairies are loving it too.
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Please someone shrink me.
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If you’ve made something similar leave me a link address and I’ll post pictures on this post with your link.    It was truly one of our more memorable summer crafts that I know we will enjoy for years to come.
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Leave off the fairy quotes and this tree could easily be turned into a little boy’s miniature club house.  Let your imagination run wild.
Here are more enchanting Home-Made Tree Houses:
My inspiration from Black Snowflake EmporiumClick HERE to see.
fairy tree house
From Transit AntennaAmazing Tutorial Click HERE.
make a treehouse
So Many people have asked about the quotes and poems on the Tree House so Here they are:

And as the seasons come and go,
There’s something you might like to know.                                 
There are fairies everywhere,
Under bushes, in the air,
Playing games just like you play.
Singing through their busy day
So listen, touch and look around
In the air and on the ground
And if you watch all nature’s things
You might just see a fairy’s wing

There is hope in dreams, imagination and in the courage of those who wish to make these dreams a reality.  Jonas Salk

Hand in Hand, with fairy grace, We will sing and bless this place. -~William Shakespeare